John aims to always help sick children

John O'Byrne and friends

John O'Byrne and friends

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Hundreds of pounds were raised last week in Falkirk for a truly worthy cause.

A raffle was held in the Royal Bank of Scotland in Newmarket Street in memory of Bo’ness boy Bailey Forrest who sadly lost his life last year.

The £330 raised from the charity tombola has been donated to the John O’Byrne foundation.

The foundation is run by the incredibly hard-working and selfless Glasgow man John O’Byrne.

John has been volunteering at the Royal Hospital for Sick Children in Glasgow since 2007 and would visit the youngsters to help them anyway he can.

He suffers from Brittle Bone disease and knows all too well what hospital life can be like.

The Bellahouston resident said: “Some children would not be able to leave their bed or hospital rooms so going in speaking or playing games with them really made a difference.”

John was then made aware of a young girl suffering from cancer and he decided he wanted to send her to Disney on Ice as an extra special treat.

In order to afford tickets, John sold a signed football for £150 and bought the little girl tickets to the Braehead show.

He said: “It was fantastic seeing her face light up as she discovered she was getting to go see all her favourite Disney characters dance in front of her on the ice.”

From then the John O’Byrne Foundation was established and John has worked tirelessly for the past two years to give as many seriously sick children as possible fantastic days out and memories.

He said: “I will always try and treat the children to something they like.

“It could be tickets to see Beyonce or something as simple as visiting a fire station.

“Whatever they will get the most enjoyment out of.”

Some of these events are not cheap and John is thankful for the amount of money that is donated to his foundation.

He said: “When I started two years ago, all I had was £150.

“It was sad as I had to prioritise the children and decide who would receive a special treat.

“Since then it has grown so much and people are so generous giving to my foundation that I no longer have that problem and I can help as many sick children as I can.”

Sometimes John has even dug into his own pockets to help fund days out for the brave patients.

Bailey Forrest was one of the youngsters John met while volunteering at hospital.

Sadly Bailey did not survive his battle with cancer, however, John was a big help to his family during the fight.

John said: “Bailey was a fantastic lad who I really enjoyed spending time with.”

A special treat John organised for Bailey was for a limousine to take him and his family to a show in Stirling.

John said: “Everything was organised but unfortunately the night before I got a phone call to say Bailey had left us.

“It was such sad news as he was a fantastic boy.”

Bailey’s family were so impressed with the work done by the foundation they have organised events in Bailey’s memory to raise money for the John O’Byrne foundation.

This month they will be at Falkirk Stadium with a tombola stall for children and adults.

Bailey’s grandmother Marion Forrest said: “John has put smiles on so many faces, not just Bailey’s, but other children and their families.

“What he does is so amazing and important. We aim to raise as much as we can for his foundation in Bailey’s memory.”

The modest 37-year-old said: “It is just amazing to be able to do this for all the kids.”

John’s work has not gone unnoticed and he has received awards for his mammoth charity efforts.

Last year he was crowned Community Champion of the Year at the Finding Scotland’s Real Heroes awards sponsored by Royal Bank of Scotland.

Not only did he win his category but John was also named overall winner.

He said: “Winning Community Champion of the Year was a shock in itself especially given the fantastic achievements of my fellow nominees but to be the overall winner was the biggest shock of my whole life.

“I never thought anything like that would happen to me and I’d like to thank everyone who voted for giving me the proudest moment of my life so far.

“I do not do this for the awards but to help the children who need it the most.”

In 2013 John was also named winner of NHSGGC’s Chairman’s award for volunteering.

John runs his foundation on his own and described it as a full-time job.

He said: “I can be in the hospital two, three, four or even five times a week. I enjoy helping the children and my plan is to continue to do so.”